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In this in-depth review, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Made In carbon steel cookware, including:
- How it looks and feels (with lots of pictures)
- How it performs in the kitchen
- What I like and dislike
- What others are saying about it
- And much more
So, if you’re in the market for new cookware and you’re thinking about buying a Made In carbon steel pan, wok, or the whole carbon steel kit, keep reading.
Use these links to navigate the review:
- Quick Overview of Made In
- What is Carbon Steel Cookware?
- Product Offerings
- Cooking Performance
- What Others Are Saying
- FAQs About Made In Carbon Steel Cookware
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy Made In Carbon Steel Cookware?
Quick Overview of Made In
Made In is not like most cookware companies.
Launching just a few years ago in 2016, Made In is the brainchild of Chip Malt and Jake Kalick, longtime friends who saw an enormous opportunity in a slowly evolving industry.
Malt and Kalick’s aha moment came when they realized that retail markups are why most people can’t afford high-quality cookware.
So, they did something about it.
Instead of selling through retailers that add a hefty margin to the cost, Made In sells its cookware exclusively online through its website MadeInCookware.com.
This direct-to-consumer business model allows Made In to keep quality high, costs low, and pass the savings to you.
You’ll learn that Kalick’s family legacy spans 100 years in the kitchen tools industry. As a result, Made In sources raw materials and manufactures its offerings through other family-owned businesses in the U.S., France, and Italy.
Perhaps this commitment to family businesses, and building relationships with experts in the supply chain, is what’s leading to the early success of the brand.
In just a few short years, Michelin-star restaurants are using Made In cookware, celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio are endorsing and investing in it, and it’s earning market share in the industry.
I recently published a review of Made In stainless steel cookware, if you’re interested in getting all the details about that product line, including its design, construction, and cooking performance. I also recently conducted a test to determine how Made In stacks up against All-Clad in the kitchen.
What is Carbon Steel Cookware?
Before I jump into the review, it’s important to understand the basics of carbon steel cookware.
Carbon steel cookware is not new to professional chefs, line cooks, or kitchen experts, but home chefs are just beginning to get a feel for its versatility and performance.
Carbon steel combines the best attributes of cast iron (durable, high heat tolerance), stainless steel (heats up fast and evenly), and non-stick cookware (no sticking), delivering it in a relatively lightweight, rustic package.
What It’s Made Of
Carbon steel is an alloy made up of about 99% iron and 1% carbon.
By contrast, cast iron often contains two to three times more carbon than carbon steel.
This small difference in the carbon to iron ratio makes carbon steel stronger than cast iron, and yet pliable. It can be pressed into shapes to create pans, woks, and the like.
How It Handles Food
Carbon steel is fiercely versatile. From delicate fish to a hearty porterhouse, you can cook a variety of recipes in a pan that ends up better than it started.
Like cast iron, carbon steel requires seasoning. As oil bonds to the surface of the pan, and the pan gets darker or shows a nice patina, the non-stick performance improves.
In addition to using your carbon steel skillet for everyday meals such as scrambled eggs, seasoned chicken breasts, or paninis, you can use your carbon steel skillet for:
- Searing or browning
- Sautéing or stir-frying
- Pan roasting
You can cook acidic foods like tomatoes in carbon steel, but prolonged exposure will remove the seasoning from the pan. It’s best to limit contact with such foods and be sure to re-season as needed.
Also, avoid boiling water or other liquids with carbon steel. The hot liquid will degrade the seasoning, leaving behind either an uneven layer or nothing at all.
To learn more about this type of cookware in general, check out the comprehensive list of carbon steel cookware pros and cons.
Made In currently has four product categories:
Fully-clad Stainless Steel Cookware
Carbon Steel Cookware
In terms of carbon steel, you have two choices. You can either buy a kit or buy pieces a la carte.
Kits, more commonly known as sets, are collections featuring two or more pieces of cookware.
Currently, Made In offers four carbon steel products with a fifth coming soon:
- Made In Carbon Steel Kit
- Made In 10-inch Carbon Steel Frying Pan
- Made In 12-inch Carbon Steel Frying Pan
- Made In Carbon Steel Wok
- Made In Carbon Steel Roasting Pan (coming soon)
Buying the kit allows you to try Made In’s entire Carbon Steel cookware lines.
The Carbon Steel Kit includes:
- 10-inch Carbon Steel Frying Pan
- 12-inch Carbon Steel Frying Pan
- Carbon Steel Wok
- One can of seasoning wax
The North Carolina-made seasoning wax is a best-selling item on Made In’s site. It’s a proprietary blend of canola oil, grapeseed oil, and beeswax. The wax will help you create the initial seasoning on your pans and can be used to maintain the seasoning for years to come.
Made In’s carbon steel collection is limited to two pans and a wok, but the truth is, you don’t need an array of pots and pans.
Carbon steel is similar to cast iron in that one or two pans is enough to complement a more extensive stainless steel set.
And, since you shouldn’t boil liquids with carbon steel (doing so removes the seasoning), Made In doesn’t make carbon steel stockpots or saucepans.
By the way, If you’re looking for a complete set of cookware, not just carbon steel, it’s worth pointing out that the Made In Executive Chef Kit includes a variety of 5-ply stainless steel pieces, plus a 12-inch carbon steel frying pan.
You’ve probably checked out the professional pictures of Made In’s carbon steel cookware on their website already.
But, in this section, I’m going to show you the real deal, including:
- What the packaging looks like
- What it looks like right out of the box
- What it looks like while cooking
- What it looks like after using it for a while
Plus, I’ll point out the parts of the design I like and dislike.
The box is a crisp, electric blue with a dare written in white block letters: Bring The Heat.
I like the transparency of the origin of the pan; you can see it’s made in France right on the box. No need to guess.
Upon opening the box, I like that there’s a personal message introducing the cookware to your kitchen. The presentation of the pan is simple and fun.
Here’s a closer look at the message printed inside the box, which gives you a welcoming intro to the pan and its benefits.
Right away, I get that it’s professional-grade cookware, but it’s done in a way that still makes me feel comfortable about using it
Also noteworthy is the two-sided product insert that answers frequently asked questions about carbon steel use and care, and lays out a diagram for what to expect from using the pan.
The insert explains how, like cast iron, this cookware will get a little ugly overtime—but that’s ok, it’s supposed to.
Over time, the pan will develop some discoloration and spotting due to the different types of food you cook.
Here’s a look at my pan after cooking dozens of meals:
This pan is meant to be a workhorse in your kitchen; it’s not intended to be a design piece, and you certainly won’t be using it as a serving platter as you might with a shiny stainless steel pan.
The 10-inch carbon steel pan is 2 mm thick with a dark blue interior and exterior that almost resembles a non-stick pan’s surface. Yet, there are no non-stick coatings applied to the pan.
You may have noticed on the box that Made In calls it “Blue Carbon Steel,” which refers to the process they use to make it—blue heat treatment.
This treatment helps prevent the formation of rust, combats corrosion, and gives the pan a blue hue that quickly disappears after your first seasoning.
As you continue to cook with it, over time, you may see the interior and exterior color of the pan displaying several different colors, and that’s normal.
Unlike Made In stainless steel pans that have lower sidewalls, the sidewalls of its carbon steel pans are steep, which helps avoid splatter and spilling.
Important to note—the size Made In advertises for its pan is about the diameter rim-to-rim, not the size of the cooking surface.
In other words, the 10-inch frying pan is 10.25 inches from the rim of one side to the rim of the other side, but the cooking surface diameter is only 7.5 inches.
With the 12-inch frying pan, the total diameter is 12.5 inches, and the cooking surface diameter is 9.25 inches.
The handle, which features an engraved Made In logo, is attached with three rivets that can withstand more than one ton of weight—that handle isn’t going anywhere.
It’s long, with a pronounced curve that gives it a sleek and unique look.
However, despite being aesthetically pleasing, I have a few issues with the function of the design.
First, the handle is flat on the top and bottom, like a ruler, but wider. This design makes it hard to get a firm grip. I prefer the more rounded design of Made In’s Stainless Clad handles.
Second, while the long, raised handle makes it easy to manipulate the pan, it gets hot, even while cooking on the stove.
With a cast iron skillet, you expect the handle to get hot because it’s typically short, stubby, and the handle and pan are all one piece.
But, since the handle on Made In carbon steel cookware is attached with rivets, I wrongly assumed it would stay cooler, like the handles on Made In stainless steel cookware. Be sure to use heat protective gloves or oven mitts when handling.
Lastly, when using the carbon steel frying pan in the oven, you may have to adjust your racks to create more space vertically. The steep, upward curve of the handle can make it a challenging fit otherwise.
The carbon steel pans, wok, or set don’t come with lids; however, you can use Made In’s Frying Pan Silicone Universal Lid, which is made of heat-resistant silicone. It’s safe to use on the stove and in the oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
As its name suggests, this universal lid fits all Made In frying pans, including the carbon steel, stainless steel, and non-stick pieces.
Made In claims that its carbon steel cookware can heat up fast and evenly like fully-clad stainless steel, can tolerate extremely high temperatures (up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit) like cast iron, and can fry a delicate egg like non-stick.
To test these claims, I put the Made In 10-inch frying pan to the test.
Claim 1: Does it heat up fast and evenly?
Yes, it absolutely does. I’ve been testing it by cooking chicken breast, chicken thighs, and several cuts of steak. Since the walls are relatively thin, it heats up significantly faster than cast iron, and just about as quickly as stainless steel.
As you can see in the pictures below, it heats up evenly, putting a consistency sear on the skin of the chicken.
Claim 2: Can it tolerate extremely high temperatures?
Unfortunately, my oven temperature doesn’t go up to 1200 degrees.
But I tested its heat tolerance by setting my gas stove to high and letting it sit for 15 minutes, and by using it in the oven set at 550 degrees.
In both instances, it showed no signs of warping, scorching, or any other damage.
So, I can’t definitively say that nothing bad will happen if you put it in a 1200 degree oven for an hour, but I can say that it will stand up to every normal cooking situation without issue.
Similar to a cast iron skillet, the Made In carbon steel pan is the perfect tool to get a quick sear on a steak, giving it a nice, brown crust, and looking in the juices.
Claim 3: Can it fry a delicate egg like a non-stick pan?
Yes and no. It’s completely possible to fry an egg with an adequately seasoned carbon steel pan. But, you still have to get the temperature right, grease the surface, and, even then, your eggs might stick.
I attempted cooking eggs in the Made In carbon steel pans several times (after many rounds of seasoning), and they still stuck to the surface. My advice—when it’s time for eggs, avoid the hassle and use a basic non-stick pan.
Bottom line—I am thrilled with the way Made In carbon steel cooks. I’ll be sticking to my non-stick pans for eggs, but, for almost everything else, this pan is the perfect tool.
It heats up fast, distributes heat evenly, can go from the stove to the oven, and can handle the stress of everyday use.
My only complaint in terms of performance, and this goes for all carbon steel, not just Made In; it requires much more maintenance than stainless steel.
In the beginning, seasoning it, and ensuring the seasoning doesn’t get stripped can be annoying. But, after you use it for a while and the seasoning builds up and gets embedded into the surface, maintenance becomes much more manageable.
What Others Are Saying
Made In’s 10-inch Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan was named one of the nine best skillets of 2020 by Chowhound.
The wok was named one of the nine best woks on Good Housekeeping’s online magazine.
While there’s a fair amount of praise for carbon steel, The Wirecutter notes, it’s not for everyone.
In reference to all carbon steel cookware, not Made In specifically, they say that it’s not as carefree as non-stick, and it doesn’t heat as evenly as fully-clad stainless steel. However, it’s still an excellent addition to the conscientious home chef’s collection.
Yes, you’ll have to do some upfront work with seasoning and maintain it, but if you keep at it, the pans will improve over time.
But reviews and lists aside, what do customers think? My analysis of verified customer reviews on MadeInCookware.com revealed some common themes:
- Many love the quick heating and temperature control
- Some think the pans are too heavy, but they like that they are lighter than cast iron
- Others find the handle uncomfortable and want it redesigned for better gripping
- It takes some time to get it properly seasoned; follow Made In’s instructions for seasoning for best results
- In general, it is easy to clean if you tend to it right after cooking while the pan is warm
FAQs About Made In Carbon Steel Cookware
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Made In Carbon Steel cookware:
Yes, it is oven and broiler-safe up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes, all Carbon Steel cookware is induction compatible and safe for use on all cooktops.
No. Handwash with a non-abrasive sponge in warm water and avoid using soap or cleansers as they may diminish the seasoning.
All Made In Carbon Steel cookware is manufactured in France.
The only place you can buy Made In Carbon Steel cookware is on their website.
Yes, Made In offers a limited lifetime warranty.
One of the significant benefits of carbon steel cookware is that it’s generally much less expensive than stainless steel cookware. You can view the current pricing of Made In carbon steel on their website.
When you use it as directed, your pan should never warp. Avoid sharp temperature changes like placing a hot pan into cold water. Want to learn more about why pans warp? Check out this article where I explain the most common causes and how to fix it when it happens.
The pan undergoes a heat treatment process called blue annealing. It helps prevent rust and corrosion, but it is not a coating. The original blue tone will disappear, and the pan will display multiple colors over time, known as a patina.
Made In recommends its Hungarian-made beechwood spoon, but you can use any tools you like. If you want to keep your pans looking their best, opt for heat-resistant silicone, nylon, or wood.
Made In has different return policies for carbon steel than it does for stainless steel.
You can return their carbon steel cookware within 45 days of the delivery date for a full refund, as long as you didn’t use it. If you’ve already cooked with it, you can still return it within that 45-day window, but you’ll get a store credit, not a full refund.
You can read the full policy here.
Shipping is free within the continental United States.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy Made In Carbon Steel Cookware?
While every cookware type has its pros and cons, the pros of Made In Carbon Steel cookware keep stacking up.
It has the heat control of stainless steel, the heat retention of cast iron, and, when properly seasoned, has the slick, easy-release surface of non-stick.
Since it’s thinner than cast iron, it heats quickly and can withstand high-temperature cooking. It can also go from cooktop to oven or broiler seamlessly.
Next, it is highly durable. Just like cast iron and high-quality stainless steel, a quality carbon steel pan can last a lifetime with proper use and care.
On the flip side, there are no shortcuts to caring for carbon steel. You can’t toss it in the dishwasher. You’ll have to clean it by hand and put some time into keeping it seasoned.
The most complex thing about carbon steel cookware is keeping the pan seasoned. If you don’t, it can develop rust and food will stick and become difficult to scrub off. If rust develops, remove it with a metal scouring pad, run hot water over it, dry thoroughly, and then re-season.
With all that being said, should you buy Made In carbon steel cookware?
If you’re looking for high-quality, ultra-durable cookware that can be your everyday, go-to kitchen tool, then yes, you should.
You can read out dozens of reviews, see more pictures, and check the current prices of Made In carbon steel cookware on MadeInCookware.com.
If the steeply curved, flat handles and limited cooking surface are deal breakers for you, maybe you should consider other brands with different designs.
You can find many other carbon steel pans on Amazon and in your local kitchen supply stores. But, do your research, not all carbon steel pans are created equal.
Tell Us What You Think About Made In Carbon Steel Cookware
Have you cooked with Made In carbon steel cookware? If yes, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.
If you found this review helpful, you should also check out:
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- All-Clad vs. Made In: The Ultimate Cookware Comparison
- Carbon Steel Cookware Pros and Cons: 17 Things to Know Before You Buy
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